Microsoft updates Band with biking tracker, online dashboard, SDK

By Aditi Pai

Microsoft BandMicrosoft has updated its wristworn fitness tracker, called Microsoft Band with new functionality to track cycling and an SDK for Windows and Android phones. The company says iOS integration is coming soon.

Microsoft also launched an online dashboard to track health that it first unveiled in October 2014 when the company launched the Microsoft Band.

The wristworn wearable, a small, plastic, black band with a long screen, looks similar to the Nike FuelBand or the Samsung Gear Fit. Microsoft Band offers a 24-hour heart rate monitor that tracks heart rate during exercise to help users understand how many calories they’ve burned, but also during sleep to understand sleep patterns.

It also tracks steps, calories, additional sleep data, and interestingly, the watch offers a UV monitor so users can keep track of the UV index when they are out in the sun. The smartwatch’s other features include call notifications, calendar alerts, a timer and alarm, and — if users have Windows 8.1 on their smartphone — access to Microsoft’s intelligent assistant, Cortana. Microsoft calls the different apps and features on the Band "tiles".

When users choose the Bike Tile, their heart rate sensor is optimized for their biking activities. For outdoor rides, the band will also track speed, distance, and elevation. The band helps users track their current and average biking speeds, review their custom splits for longer bike rides, and view an estimate for how long it would take their body to recover from the ride. The tile also offers new five indoor biking workouts: Indoor Bike Tabata Sprints, Indoor Bike Hour of Sweat, Indoor Bike Total Body, Indoor Bike Pyramid, and Indoor Bike Intervals.

Microsoft first started adding guided workouts in a firmware update last month.

With the addition of the SDK, developers can now integrate different metrics that the Microsoft Band collects, including heart rate, UV, accelerometer, gyroscope, and skin temperature, into their apps.

And as expected,  Microsoft Health's web portal connects to MapMyFitness and Microsoft HealthVault, which brings in data from other health trackers like blood glucose monitors, electronic scales, and activity and medical monitors.